How Do We Know Jesus Isn’t Speaking Figuratively About the Eucharist in John 6?

Cale B.T., an Anglican with some Catholic sympathies, asked one of the better questions I’ve seen regarding John 6 and the Eucharist:

Guercino, Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well (1641)
I’m an Anglican who is very sympathetic to Catholicism and I’ve a question regarding the Real Presence. A verse frequently used in defence of this doctrine is John 6:52-57. 
“The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Then Jesus said unto them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” 
However, it seems that in John’s Gospel there is a pattern of people having difficulties with the Lord’s teachings by taking Him too literally. 
In John 3, Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born again, and Nicodemus, misunderstanding the metaphor asks “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” 

In John 4, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman of living water and she replies “Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?”

In John 8, Jesus says “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” And His audience answers him “We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?” Again, Jesus is speaking of spiritual bondage to sin here, not actual enslavement. 

Why shouldn’t we take John 6 as being part of this pattern? 

If you’ve addressed this objection elsewhere, I’m happy to read a link.

In fact, I had a post related to this question a few months ago, but it wasn’t specific to John’s Gospel, and I want to say a few things that I didn’t say there. First of all, I think that Cale is right to see a parallel between John 3:4, John 4:11-12, and John 8:33 on the one hand, and John 6:52 on the other. In all four cases, we have crowds taking Jesus’ comments literally. I’d add a fifth case as well: John 2:19-21.

But there are two important difference between John 6 and those other four cases:

(1) In John 6, Jesus Leads Them to Literalism.

Jacob Jordaens, Christ Instructing Nicodemus (17th c.)

In John 2, John 3, John 4, and John 8, Jesus uses imagery that His audience immediately takes literally:

  • In John 2:19, Jesus uses the image of the Temple to describe Himself. In John 2:20, the people have immediately mistaken this to mean the Temple of Solomon.
  • In John 3:3, Jesus talks about the need to be born again. Nicodemus immediately assumes that this means a physical rebirth, and is confused (John 3:4).
  • In John 4:13-14, Jesus describes Himself as Living Water. The woman He’s speaking to immediately thinks He’s referring to literal water (John 4:15).
  • In John 8:32, Jesus says that to the crowd that the truth will set them free. They immediately protest that they’re not in bondage to anyone, and Jesus has to explain what He means by freedom (John 8:33). Likewise, when He speaks about who their Father/father is, they respond as if He’s speaking of biological fatherhood.
Notice that in each of these, we see the overly-literal confusion instantly in the very verse after the statement in question. But that’s not the case in John 6. Here, the crowd doesn’t initially take Jesus’ comment to literally be about the Eucharist. He has to use this image three separate times before they finally take it literally.
The first time, in John 6:32-33, Jesus says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world.

The people think that He is referring to literal bread, but they don’t think that He’s referring to Himself. Their response is (John 6:34), “Lord, give us this bread always.

So He approaches it a second time, explaining that He’s referring to Himself. This culminates in John 6:41, in which He says, “I am the Bread which came down from Heaven.

The crowd still doesn’t take Him to literally mean that His Flesh is Bread. They take the saying figuratively, and their shock is instead at the implication that He is saying that He came from Heaven. They say (John 6:42) “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from Heaven’?” Notice that in the way that they have reframed it, they’ve disregarded the “Bread” reference entirely, assuming it to be metaphorical.

So Jesus addresses it a third time. This time, He emphasizes the explicitly Eucharistic aspect, in a way that is virtually unavoidable (John 6:48-51):

I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.

It’s only at this point that they take Him literally, after He’s presented the same teaching three different ways.

So that’s the first difference. Here, you don’t just have some naive overly-literal crowd assuming that Jesus must mean everything literally. You have Jesus hammering this point over and over until the people finally take Him at His word. The second difference is how He responds to them taking Him literally:

(2) In John 6, There’s No Correction.

Carl Heinrich Bloch, Woman at the Well (19th c.)

Let’s look at those other four cases again. I pointed out above that in John 2, John 3, John 4, and John 8, the audience immediately takes Jesus literally. Well, in each of those cases, Jesus (or John) quickly clarifies that this isn’t what He meant:

  • In John 2:19-20, Jesus doesn’t correct their confusion. Later, they’ll use a distorted version of His words to condemn Him to Death (Mt. 26:61; Mk. 14:58), ironically fulfilling what He actually meant in the prophesy. But even here, where Jesus is silent, John immediately notes (John 2:21) that Jesus meant His Body, not the literal Temple of Solomon.
  • When Nicodemus takes being born again to be a reference to a physical rebirth (John 3:4), Jesus immediately corrects Him, explaining that He doesn’t mean it literally, but as a spiritual rebirth (John 3:5-8).
  • When the woman at the well mistakes Jesus to be speaking about water in an earthly sense (John 4:11-12), He corrects her by revealing that He is the Messiah. She gets the implications of this, and goes into the city to proclaim Him as Christ. John points out that she left her water jar behind at the well (John 4:28), showing that she figured out that what He meant by Living Water.
  • In John 8:33, when the people assume that Jesus is talking about physical slavery, He immediately corrects them to say that He’s talking about spiritual slavery (John 8:34-38). He does the same thing with being a physical v. spiritual descendant of Abraham in this passage.

As a result, nobody takes the overly-literal position of Nicodemus, the woman at the well, or the crowds in John 2 or John 8. There’s no room to, because Jesus (or the Apostle John) clarified His meaning.

As we just saw in the prior point, Jesus’ response in John 6 is the polar opposite. Instead of getting the people to take Him less literally, He keeps pushing them to take Him more literally. So finally, as we saw, the people come to take Him literally, and are shocked.

So the shocked question in John 6:52 is “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” And here, if it was like John 2, John 3, John 4, and John 8, we should see Jesus immediately clarifying His meaning, to show that He doesn’t mean it literally.

Maurycy Gottlieb, Christ preaching at Capernaum (1879)

And He does clarify His meaning, but He does so by doubling down on the literalism (John 6:53-58):

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.

His language is even more strongly literal after He’s challenged on than before. It’s 180 degrees opposed to how He responds in every instance in which He’s using figurative language.

Basically, in John 2, John 3, John 4, and John 8, we have people taking Jesus literally, and Him immediately saying (in essence), “You misunderstand: I mean this figuratively.” In John 6, we have people taking Jesus literally, and Him saying (in essence), “Yes. Now what are you going to do about it?”

This becomes even clearer in the verses following. After Jesus has emphasized (for the fourth time now) that He means this literally, His disciples say, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” (John 6:60). Jesus then presses them on it again, and John 6:66 says that “After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him.” Then, Jesus confronts the Twelve, and presses them on it (John 6:67): “Will you also go away?

He could scarcely make it clearer that He meant this literally, and that it’s an essential part of Christianity, such that rejection of it is rejection of Him.

Now there are several other reasons that could be added: the testimony of the Early Church Fathers about what this passage meant; the connections between this passage and Passover, the manna, the Jewish sacrificial system, the feeding of the five thousand, and the Last Supper; etc. But Cale confined his question to the structure of John’s Gospel, and I have done so in my response.

Hopefully, that shows the two major reasons: in the other cases, the people just assume that Jesus is speaking literally, and He (or John) quickly explains otherwise. In John 6, their starting assumption is that it’s not literal, until Christ leaves them no room to take it figuratively.

72 Comments

  1. It is IMPOSSIBLE that Jesus was speaking metaphorically when He said, “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you…” (John 6:54).

    It CANNOT be the case, because the expressions to “eat flesh” and to “drink blood” already had a long and well established metaphorical meaning for Jews – hence just about every person listening to Jesus in John 6 would’ve known that He couldn’t POSSIBLY be speaking METAPHORICALLY when He spoke to them of their need to eat His body and drink His blood!

    The metaphorical meaning of those expressions (“eat flesh” and “drink blood”), for Jews (and for Arabs – even to this day), is to wage war against a person (“eat his flesh”) and do harm to that person (“drink his blood”).

    So if Jesus was speaking METAPHORICALLY, He would’ve been talking absolute NONSENSE! He would’ve been saying, “Unless you wage war against me and do harm to me, you will suffer eternal death!” That’s how ABSURD His words would’ve been!

    Indeed, there are several verses in Scripture itself – containing words spoken by GOD HIMSELF – which amply demonstrate the METAPHORICAL meaning of “eating flesh” and “drinking blood”. Below are a few.

    1. Francis –

      Excellent supplement and I never thought of it this way that the words that are alleged to have a metaphorical meaning already have a metaphorical meaning that is different than what most people think the metaphorical words mean! Jesus would have been talking nonsense if one had fidelity to the metaphorical meaning of these words as used in other places in scripture.

      Of course, people also think it was impossible for Jesus to be speaking literally as well. 🙂

    2. You say: “It is IMPOSSIBLE that Jesus was speaking metaphorically when He said, “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you…” (John 6:54).

      It CANNOT be the case, because the expressions to “eat flesh” and to “drink blood” already had a long and well established metaphorical meaning for Jews…he metaphorical meaning of those expressions (“eat flesh” and “drink blood”), for Jews (and for Arabs – even to this day), is to wage war against a person (“eat his flesh”) and do harm to that person (“drink his blood”).
      Answer: You are deceived. First of all, this objection ignores that in His lifetime, Jesus was both physically and psychologically reviled. That being so, the objection vanishes because by “eating His flesh” in a metaphorical sense, we reap the benefits of that physical abuse by believing He suffered for our sins in our room and stead (Isaiah 53).
      Second, the objection is disingenuous, in that while it acknowledges that eating flesh and drinking blood can be metaphors for contempt, it leaves the impression that they can ONLY be metaphors for contempt. As a matter of fact, any given word or words can be used metaphorically in a number of ways. Consider, for example, the word “sword.” In Luke 2:35, a “sword” will pierce Mary’s heart. Clearly, “sword” is a metaphor for sorrow. But in Revelation, the “sword” in Jesus’ mouth is a metaphor for judgment (cf. Revelation 1:16; 2:16; 19:15, 21). In Matthew 10:34, “sword” is a metaphor for division and violence, whereas in Ephesians 6:17 and Hebrews 4:12, the “sword” is a metaphor for the Word of God. Ergo, there is nothing wrong in principle with the suggestion that eating flesh and drinking blood can have more than one metaphorical meaning! Hence, Catholicism cannot escape the absolute truth that “metaphorical believing” under the auspices of “eating flesh and blood” is indeed a viable alternative to their position.
      But what is even more devastating to your argument is the fact that both eating flesh and drinking blood are metaphorical in other ways besides hating or causing someone injury. Sometimes eating flesh and drinking blood are metaphors of distress under persecution (Lev 26:29; Deut 28:53; Jer 19:9). Sometimes they metaphorically express divine justice or giving someone their just desserts (Numbers 23:24; Isaiah 49:26; Rev 16:6). Other uses are found in Ezekiel 39:17-21, 2 Samuel 23:17, Isa 49:26… and James speaks of eating flesh as a metaphor for greed (5:3). So while the Old Testament and other passages can shed light on how “flesh-eating” has been metaphorically used, the determining criterion for a proper exegesis of those terms is the immediate context of John’s gospel. Thus, the context makes it clear that eating flesh and drinking blood are primarily metaphors for belief in the life and death of the Redeemer, and your Transubstantiation nonsense is a lie.

      1. While true there are many metaphors in the bible. Your augrugement is wrong. As a former protestant I could not deny the truth that the one and only Church that Christ left on this earth was the Universal or more commonly called Catholic Church. Being that his Church put the books of the bible together, and up to approximately the mid 1500’s there was only one Christian Church and that a crazy Catholic Priest (Martin Luther) thought he had a better idea than did Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The Church wrote, published, and have the only Authority to determine scripture. Even before there was a written Bible there was only oral teaching. Jesus gave Peter the Keys to the Kingdom. And, that the gates of hell shall never prevail over it. Jesus left a Church, from his Church came a Bible through his oral teachings. Now, “what-ever-you-want-ism” just changes their beliefs if they do not like it. Each baptist church has its own beliefs. The governing body of each baptist church are the deacons and pastor of that church, and if the pastor of that church is not preaching what the deacons like he is replaced. They do not have the Authority of Christ to do any of that. In short, the author knows more about the book that he wrote than the reviewer. It always comes down to Authority and only one Church has that Power.

        1. You say: Your argument is wrong. As a former protestant I could not deny the truth that the one and only Church that Christ left on this earth was the Universal or more commonly called Catholic Church.

          Response: Excuse me, but my argument is correct and you have not disproved anything I said in the least! As a former Catholic, I made a fast exit OUT when I discovered I had been duped. And I most definitely CAN deny the claims of Catholicism with for far too many reasons to list here, as opposed to your being “unable” to deny anything they say, which is a pity.
          Your answer to me was a cute trick that any reader should quickly see: Instead of dealing with what I said, you try to blow smoke over it by switching the subject and go on a rant about the authority of the Roman Catholic Church, which, I might add, if such authority were true, would certainly be mentioned in the book of ROOOOOMANS, but it is not. For your information, I can speak on the (watch it now!) “AUTHORITY” of the word of God WITHOUT the Pope looking over my shoulder, as is explicitly stated in Titus 2:15, “Speak these things as you encourage and rebuke with all authority.”
          Oh my, I’ll bet THAT rains on your parade, doesn’t it?
          As for the RCC being the only church on earth for 1500 years where everyone on the planet was bowing down to the Pope, you need to take a wake-up will. Suffice to say, that any true Christian, when given the facts, can detect that Catholicism presents a false gospel, as seen by that filthy statement in CCC #1821 (Good works done in God’s grace opens the door to heaven). Nothing could be further from the truth or more insulting to the cross-work of Jesus Christ! Besides that, the RCC demands other things for salvation; such as that other bombastic statement that “we do not know of any other way that assures entry into eternal life other than baptism” (CCC #1257). They don’t know of ANY OTHER WAY??? Then they certainly may be classified as religious degenerates who believe in “another jesus and another gospel” per 2 Cor 11:4. If baptism saves, then it looks like the Lord Jesus Christ wasted His time coming HERE, did He not???
          Then, as it relates to the topic of this thread, the RCC requires swallowing the “organic and substantial” body of Christ in the Eucharist to boot, being “necessary for salvation” (CCC 1129 & 1355; Council of Trent, “Concerning Communion”, ch. 1 and “Concerning Communion Under Both Kinds”, ch. 3; Canon 1; Mysterium Fidei, intro).

          Need it be said that if Paul threw a fit at the Galatians adding just ONE small thing to the gospel (which is Christ plus NOTHING) that he would have a double temper tantrum over all the requirements set forth in the RCC! Papal egos are ten times worse than the Galatians EVER WERE!

          Finally, the obnoxious doctrine of Transubstantiation is irrational on practically every level and is therefore logically, philologically, philosophically, scientifically, forensically, metaphysically, linguistically and biblically bankrupt! So much so, that up to 70% of Catholics do not even understand it. One Catholic apologist who has written a book on the subject admits, “Poll after poll in recent years has confirmed that more and more Catholics are mistaken… they have misguided views about the Eucharist. [These] polls suggest that sometimes up to fifty percent depending on how the question is phrased, [and] sometimes as many as seventy percent of Catholics can’t identify that core Catholic belief…”

          Listen to the audio here…

          http://www.catholic.com/audio-player/3970

          Catholic apologists repeatedly assert that a Christian relying on the Bible as his sole infallible authority will produce confusion. They claim one must have another infallible authority, the Papacy. Yet, here is their key doctrine, described in the audio as “the crown jewel” of the Catholic faith, and seven out of ten Catholics are confused on it! Ergo, God would never obligate us to the philosophical conundrum of Transubstantiation, for it does nothing but “minister endless questions”, and therefore, He MUST be opposed to it (1 Tim 1:3-4).

          1. I’m noting that what I said about Transubstantiation has gone unanswered, so it stands. As to your query,
            at Vatican 1, we are told that Jesus bestowed on “Peter in his single person…immediately and directly” the primacy of the whole church (Of the Institution of the Apostolic Primacy in blessed Peter, chapter 1). One might wonder why then did Paul say that the care of all the churches comes upon him DAILY” (2 Cor 11:20). Anyway, Protestants believe quite logically that it was Peter’s FAITH that was the rock the church was to built on, not on Peter the man. In case you didn’t know, the CCC says the same thing:

            “On the rock of faith confessed by St. Peter, Christ built his Church.” (#424).

            The only problem is that they assert that Jesus only meant that in a secondary way! Baloney. The evidence is quite strong that He meant it PRIMARILY. I am convinced that the biblical evidence DEMANDS that Peter (as the CONFESSING apostle)… confessing what he did about the truth of Jesus being the Messiah, is the foundation rock of the church, and NOT Peter, the man, personally, contra Vatican 1. This interpretation is pristine in its clarity by the sequel in the passage which follows. Perhaps you never considered it. There, Jesus calls Peter by another name: SATAN. Now just as Peter had spoken by revelation from the Father, he now becomes the mouthpiece of the Devil. Now, you absolutely CAN say that by confessing Jesus as the Messiah, he certainly is “A” rock….as he speaks for God. But in tempting Jesus to refuse the cross, he is “A” Satan…as he speaks for Satan. The point is this: Peter is called Satan only in direct reference to his words of seduction. You and I would both agree that apart from that expression, the designation does not apply. That being so, we can agree that the Lord is not declaring that Peter THE MAN is “a Satan” in terms of all his personal qualities and character. Peter is Satan only as he speaks FOR Satan. If you agree with that, as I’m sure you would, then you must take the next step. THIS WOULD REQUIRE, BY ANALOGY, THAT WE UNDERSTAND THAT PETER IS THE ROCK ONLY AS HE SPEAKS FOR GOD IN HIS OFFICE AS A CONFESSING APOSTLE, and NOT that Peter the Man, with all his personal qualities and character, is the Rock on which the church is to be built!

            This air-tight analogy is further confirmed when we remember that Christ did NOT say to Peter that “upon YOU (that is, upon your personal qualities and character) will I build my church.” Therefore we see that the church was never intended to be built upon Peter “the man” as Roman Catholicism imagines, but rather CHRIST THE MAN and Lord Our God. Talk about a biblical commentary on a particular verse…..1 Cor 10:4 swings the wrecking ball at the RC perspective: “And THAT ROCK WAS CHRIST” (!!!). As if that wasn’t enough, the Lord is referred to as a “Rock of scandal” (Rms 9:33), but more significatly, by Peter HIMSELF (!!!) our Lord is referred to as “a Living Stone”, the “chief corner stone”, “the stone which the builder’s disallowed”, “a stone of stumbling” and ……(watch it!) a ROCK of offence (1 Pet 2:4-8). It is a forgone conclusion then that Peter very well knew WHOOOO the Rock was in M-16, and it certainly wasn’t himself! Add to this, the O.T. is replete with references to the Lord being our Rock and the subject is closed: (see Ps 18:2, 18:46, 62:2, 62:6-7, 78:35, 89:26, 94:22, 95:1, Isa 17:10.) Thus, the madness of Catholic theology building their church on a MAN, and believing in a dynastic succession of MEN as a REQUIREMENT for heaven itself (also per Vatican 1) is totally opposed to the Word of God: “It is better to trust in the Lord than put confidence in man” –“Put not your trust in princes, in whom there is no help” — “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man.” (Ps 118:8; 146:3, Jer 17:5).

          2. You do not believe in the bible, Daryl…you believe in your own personal, private interpretation of Scripture, which contradicts Scripture itself. It is clear from reading your garbage that you ignore or skip over the vast majority of Scripture. But hey, even if you didn’t, you could just twist it to mean what you want to say. How convenient!

          3. Spare me the nonsense that I don’t believe the Bible. Worse than that, you leave the impression that comprehension of the word of God is simply unattainable without the checklist of the magisterium. A magisterium, one may add, which has officially gone on record as leaving 99% of the Bible officially… UNINTERPRETED! The theory that comprehension is impossible from the text itself, is unimaginably contradictory! Assuming that the Holy Spirit inspired Text is not reliably expressed therein, the RCC erects an impenetrable barrier between the Spirit and the reader. The irony is that Catholic “theologians” expect THEIR readers to understand what they say and what they mean and hope readers will be persuaded by THEIR reasoning. ONE COULD ONLY WISH THAT SUCH PEOPLE WOULD EXTEND THE SAME COURTESY TO MOSES, ISAIAH, LUKE, ETC!!!

            Now in point of fact, the word of God is a “fire, and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces” (Jer 23:29)…as well as your void-of-proof objections.

            “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Ps 119:18).
            “Thy word…gives understanding to the SIMPLE” (Ps 119:130).
            “Whereby when ye read, ye may UNDERSTAND my knowledge in the mystery of Christ” (Eph 3:3).
            “For we write nothing to you that you do not read and UNDERSTAND” (2 Cor 1:3).

            Timothy knew the Scriptures from early childhood, and was NOT taught from any magisterium, but BY HIS MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER (2 Tim 1:5). Priscilla & Aquila were TENTMAKERS, yet a church resided in their house (1 Cor 16:19), and they were capable teachers who had not gone to seminary; instructing a man even as eloquent as Apollos (Acts 18:26).

            “The annointing which you received from Him abides in you (the Holy Spirit!!!) and you have NO NEED THAT ANYONE TEACH YOU…” (1 Jn 2:27).

            Contrary to you, Jesus CERTAINLY expected the people of His day to make “private interpretations” of His word! “Search the Scriptures” (Jn 5:39), “Have ye not read?” (Matt 12:3), “Is it not written in your law?” (Jn 10:34)—serve to show that we are EXPECTED to excercise our senses on the Word so that we may be able to discern good and evil—just as I am doing now, exposing the EVIL of Roman Catholic thought (Matt 12:3, 5; 19:4; 21:16, 42; 22:29-31, Luke 10:26; Acts 17:2-3; 18:8, Heb 5:13-14, Eph 5:17).

            We are exhorted to grow in knowledge of it (2 Pet 3:10; 2 Tim 3:14), study it (2 Tim 2:15), search it (Ps 119:18), read it (Deut 17:15; Eph 3:3-4), “EAT IT” (Deut 8:13, Jer 15:16; Job 23:12), meditate on it (Josh 1:8; Ps 1:2), test what is said (1 Jn 4:1), and to even die for it (Rev 1:3).

          4. Ok Daryl. Pretend I’m a new believer. Who do I go to in order to learn the Gospel? Which bishop should I obey? How do I get saved? Who can give me the best guidance on understanding Scripture?

          5. It’s not that I wouldn’t be happy to continue this conversation, for as you can see, I am perfectly capable of doing so. But I feel I would be out of order to continue answering questions that are off topic to the one at hand, and if there is a moderator lurking, anything further I would say outside of that topic might be deleted, so I’d be wasting my time. I may have already overstepped my bounds.

          6. Daryl, I would love to converse with you. Here’s the thing: Your most recent post, and one of the others a couple posts back, show charity and humility. But take it or leave it, I will give you some advice. No matter who is right or wrong about what here, the majority of your posts betray contempt and anger at Catholicism, at catholics, etc. I can see it because I am the same way on a regular basis (as you can see by some other posts). I have typed up and then erased the majority of my responses to you, because I want to be better at responding in love and not vindictiveness. You’re here for one of two reasons: You want to be right and win an argument, or you want to convert souls to truth. Depending on which reason it is, I highly encourage you to take a different approach in your responses.

          7. I will not be taking a different approach to my responses because they are perfectly in line with biblical precedent. Your advice, on the other hand, is based on…nothing but your own advice!
            Amusingly, you say I am trying to HIDE my contempt for Catholicism. I’m not trying to hide any such thing, but am rather, laying it out for all to see! Be careful now. Your ignorance of the Bible is showing. In Revelation, we note that Jesus congratulates those who have taken the time to investigate those who claim they are apostles, but are not, and has found them liars. May I not do the same? Moreover, when He says that he HATES the doctrine of the Nico’s in Rev 2:15, He did not do so in any sort of “charitable” manner, but called a spade a spade, as I do now, accompanying my complaints with biblical proof; something you are lax to do.

            Actually, I don’t even come close to getting as angry with Catholic doctrine as Jesus did to Hizzz adversaries in Matt 23. Was Christ “charitable” when He calls the scribes and Pharisees insulting names 16 times?
            The names are, “hypocrites” (7 times), “son of Hell” (once), “blind guides” (twice), “fools and blind” (3 times), “whited sepulchres” (once), “serpents” (once), and “offspring of vipers” (once).

            In 1 & 2 John, the author calls certain persons “liars” and “antichrists”.
            Oh my, how uncharitable!
            Or John the Baptist, (“ye brood of vipers”).
            Or Stephen, “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.” (Acts 7:51).
            Or Jesus calling Herod (gasp!) a fox (Luke 13:32).

            By now it’s much too late to advise thooooze people to “take a different approach”, but if you were to go back in time, obviously, none of them would agree with you

            It therefore should go without saying that those sensitive souls who flinch when hearing someone call into question the veracity of their doctrine, they need to stop being offended and cease with the demand for “charity”…. (which of course has its place, but not in EVERY place!). Since we agree that Christ was without sin, we may deduce by good and necessary consequence that occasional name-calling and doctrinal examination are not sins either, but are rather, a virtue, when one perceives that the word of God is being mishandled. It is identifying a person for what he is, and pointing out that what he believes is contrary to the biblical record— and this cannot be done except by… DOING IT.

          8. Daryl,

            With you now comparing yourself to Chrst, I am convinced that our conversation is not bearing any good fruit. I will leave you with the short clip below, of another person who is very well studied in the Scriptures, discussing a small part of the Scriptural goldmine that supports the teaching of the Real Presence. I almost want to think that you’re actually the caller, with the way he asks the question – hahaha. Anyways, I hope you find it enlightening. Take care.

            https://www.facebook.com/catholicanswers/videos/10153912596746006/

          9. Honestly, I have no choice to conclude that your mind is in a spiritually comatose state. For you to lambast me for imitating what Jesus has done (which He said we SHOULD do, as well as Paul who said, “be ye imitators of me”) proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that your responses are not generated by the Spirit, but out of your own fleshly ignorance.

          10. By the way, Daryl, my point was that there are plenty of people out there who are catholics AND truly believe they have the truth. Whether they are mistaken or not, they’re not out there hurting people. The point is, you can be obstinate in your anger and vitriol, but if you are attempting to convert people away from Catholicism, you will not succeed talking to people that way – I can tell you that for sure.

          11. In response to the video you furnished, I shut it off after about 45 seconds. During that time, Mr. Staples snuck in through the back door the supposed fact that at the Last Supper Christ instituted the RC priesthood! Are you kidding me??? NOW THAT IS AN OUTRIGHT LIE. Staples is one LOST soul, I don’t care how religious he thinks he is, he’s on his way to hell.
            Void of proof, the Council of Trent claims that, “Christ instituted a new passover, namely the offering of Himself by the church through its priests under visible signs” (Session 22, ch. 1). Obviously, Trent & Mr. Staples know that the natural antecedent to any discussion on Transubstantiation is the question of whether a sacerdotal, New Testament priesthood was ever established by Jesus Christ in the first place. If there is no New Testament priesthood, then there is no power to transubstantiate the bread and wine. The Bible is filled with abundant information pertaining to priests. We would certainly expect then, that when we read about life in the New Testament church, SOMETHING ought to be mentioned relating to a Catholic priesthood if the claim is legitimate. Yet out of NOWHERE, Trent and Staples manipulate the Last Supper into a sacramental priesthood by brazenly asserting that right there at table, Jesus ordained the apostles as “priests”! (CCC 1337). Their position is further demolished by the fact that when the offices of the church ARE listed, the record is silent to either Pope or priest (1 Cor 12:28, Eph 4:11-12). There is not one word of a special breed of men called “priests” who were mandated to reenact the sacrifice of the cross in a theatrical spectacle called the “Mass” where they were to preside over the metamorphosis of bread and wine so that our sins could be forgiven via the mouth!

            There are only two priesthoods spoken of in the New Testament. The first is the good news that Christ’s High Priestly ministry puts an end to evvvvvverything that Rome’s sacrificial priesthood wants to carry on! The second one is the “priesthood of all believers” (1 Peter 2:5 & 2:9, Rev 1:6, 5:10, 20:6) who are called Christians, NOT Catholics (Acts 11:26). These Christians are they who offer “the sacrifice of praise” (Heb 13:15), not the sacrifice of the Eucharist; who offer the fruit of their lips that acknowledge His name (ibid), not the opening of their mouth to consume His body; who offer the “sacrifice of thanksgiving” (Ps 116:17, 1 Thess 5:18), not the sacrifice of the Mass; and who, becoming a temple of the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:1), have no need to become a temple of the sacrificial Eucharist; because they now offer THEMSELVES as a “living sacrifice” (ibid). Hence, since the “spiritual sacrifices” we offer (1 Peter 2:5) run like a red THREAD in Scripture, Catholic priests and those like them, such as yourself, must put on their brakes to observe that ever blinking red LIGHT flashing before them.

          12. Well it’s clear you consider yourself divine, since you are able to judge the hearts of men and discern if they are going to hell or not. Disgusting. Please stop calling yourself a Christian and pretending that your understanding of Scripture is guided by the Holy Spirit. You are serving nobody but satan.

          13. Just because a large percentage of “catholics” do not understand their faith does not make that faith any less true. They have been mis-catechized must like yourself. Anyone who leaves the catholic faith never really understood it or believed in the first place. So, I have to ask you, are you your own pope? By what Authority do you live your faith? By the bible? That is just a part of it. You are taking bible verses out of context to suit your arguments. Christ did not found a book, he founded a church. 1 Tim 3:15 “if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”

          14. You say: Just because a large percentage of “catholics” do not understand their faith does not make that faith any less true.
            I say: I made that comment in response to the complaint of Catholics that Protestant use of the Bible produces confusion, and therefore we supposedly need the Pope and company to set the record straight. Ergo, if up to 70% of Catholics do not understand the metaphysical gymnastics going on in the Eucharist (courtesy of Aquinas) then what right have they to criticize their adversaries? Answer? They don’t have any right at all, and my comment STANDS.

            You say: “They have been mis-catechized… like yourself.”

            I say: 70% have been poorly instructed! Which means, even upper management cannot even get it straight, and thus, in these days of spiritual economic uncertainty, you may wish to consider taking your “ecclesiastical lodging” elsewhere

            You shed a tear by saying, “You are taking bible verses out of context to suit your arguments.”

            Now go get a Kleenex and wake up to the obvious fact you haven’t for a moment demonstrated that I have taken ANYTHING out of context. There is no meat on the bones of your complaint, so it must be dismissed at once.

            You lament: “Christ did not found a book, he founded a church. 1 Tim 3:15 “if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”

            I respond: You are apparently unaware of the many times wherein God says, “Write it down”, so I suggest you do further research. Thus, your objection that 1 Tim 3:15 somehow diminishes the importance of His written decrees, is lame at best.
            As for 1 Tim 3, to suppose that this verse refers to the Roman Catholic Church in particular is completely outrageous on its face for far too many reasons to list here. You might begin with the fact there is no mention whatsoever of any sacerdotal priesthood mentioned in the N.T., namely of a body of men who were assigned to “represent” the sacrifice of the cross in a theatrical showcase called the “Mass”, wherein sins could be forgiven and salvation attained through the “miracle” of Transubstantiate via the mouth!

          15. It’s also noteworthy that “sola scriptura” is not taught anywhere in the bible. Neither is the canon of Scripture.

          16. As the gentle reader will notice, you are again switching topics, now to S.S. and the canon, which does not refute anything I said previously about Transubstantiation. I notice the same “bait and switch” tactic with the other responses. Nevertheless I will briefly entertain your objections.
            The idea that we would be up a creek without a paddle without the Magisterium to officially define the canon is built on a cracked foundation once we realize that Jesus “canonized” many of the books Himself! He mentioned all the martyrs from Abel (Genesis) thruuuuuu Zechariah (2 Chron 2:24). He also left no room to doubt the Psalms (Luke 24:45), Jonah (Matt 12:40), Daniel (Matt 24:15), and that very same Daniel records reading Jeremiah (Dan 9:2). Joel is mentioned in Acts 2:16; Job in James 5:11; and in the synagogue, Jesus read from Isaiah (Luke 4:17). Peter quotes from Proverbs (2 Pet 2:2), and the chief priests quote from Micah in Matt 2:5. Also, the many resemblances to the book of Ezekiel in Revelation would be too numerous to mention. Hence your argument that Protestants are clueless as to what might belong in the canon–without the RCC saying it was so, is D.O.A.
            Remember, this is only a brief explanation and I don’t want to offend the moderator by writing an epistle off topic.

            I also note the absolute hypocrisy of Catholics such as yourself, when they tell Evangelicals we cannot be sure of the canon without an infallible magisterium to decree it. Do you wonder exactly how your hypocrisy comes to its fruition? Simple. The RCC claims to be given the power of infallibility when the Pope speaks ex-cathedra. Yet all over the internet, no one can agree on how many times the Pope has utilized this alleged “gift”. Don’t try to deny it. Been there, done that. Thus, if neither the hierarchy or the laity cannot give us a straight answer, then no Catholic on Earth can be sure how many times the Pope has spoken infallibly. So what good is the gift? Is this not a false gift per Proverbs 25:14? “Whoso boasteth of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain”. Consequently, if the Catholic cannot furnish us with a LIST of infallible ex-cathedra statements, by what right do they have to demand of Evangelicals an infallible LIST of the canonical books? Answer? They don’t have any right at all.

            Again, the RCC claims to be the custodian of the Bible, to whose infallible interpretations we must refer to. Unfortunately, just as the world will never know how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop, is it not true that we will never know how many verses she has infallibly defined? Consequently, if the Catholic cannot furnish us with a LIST of their infallibly defined verses, by what right do they have to demand of Evangelicals an infallible LIST of the canonical books? Answer? They don’t have any right at all.

            And yet again, the RCC tells us that we are to cling to “Tradition” just as tenaciously as we do to Scripture. Yet…..is it not true that she cannot tell us exactly what those Traditions are? Where is the official infallible list? Answer? They can’t provide it. Ergo, what they demand from Evangelicals, they themselves cannot provide, and thus, we must sadly conclude that Catholics are hypocrites, plain and simple.

            Now as to your comment that the Bible no where teaches Sola Scriptura, I would suggest as a starting point, reading all 176 verses of Psalm 119 (the longest chapter in the Bible), wherein every single one of those verses portray the very essence of S.S.
            I’m sure it will come as a shock to your system, so I advise having a wet washcloth nearby as you read along, no doubt sweating bullets while all objections to Sola Scriptura begin to evaporate before your very eyes.

            Hence, if the Catholic cannot furnish us with a LIST of ex-cathedra statements……and a LIST of infallibly defined verses……and a LIST of Traditions that are equal in authority to the Bible, then by what right does the Catholic have to demand that the Protestant produce a LIST of the table of contents in Scripture???

          17. Daryl, et al,

            This post is two years old, so I don’t promise to follow the comments closely. That said, please continue your conversation!

            Daryl, I appreciate you recognizing that the conversation was going off-topic into areas of Sola Scriptura and the canon of Scripture and the question of authority. I also agree that it seems more productive to focus on the Eucharist.

            That being said, I want to address one specific points you made on the canon. You said, “The idea that we would be up a creek without a paddle without the Magisterium to officially define the canon is built on a cracked foundation once we realize that Jesus “canonized” many of the books Himself! He mentioned all the martyrs from Abel (Genesis) thruuuuuu Zechariah (2 Chron 2:24). ”

            There are four things to note here. First, that this argument that we can know the Old Testament from the New Testament evidence is ahistorical. This gets the story of revelation all inverted. God reveals Himself partially in the Old Covenant to reveal Himself fully in the New (Heb. 1:1-3). The revelation of Jesus Christ reveals the meaning of the content of the Old Covenant and Old Testament, but that’s not how the early Christians knew which were and weren’t the Scriptures.

            Second, that this argument relies upon us already knowing the canon of the New Testament. So you’re only shifting the problem, rather than really solving it. How do we know which NT books are canonical? Third, that this argument doesn’t solve the problem by its own terms. You say that this method gets us “most” of the Books of the Bible. But obviously, a solution that doesn’t give us a clear and complete canon is inadequate.

            But the final point, and the reason that I’m responding to a canon question on a 2014 Eucharistic post, is that your Abel-to-Zechariah argument is objectively false. Christ doesn’t refer to the Zechariah of 2 Chronicles 2:24 (“Zechari′ah the son of Jehoi′ada the priest”). He refers to “Zechari′ah the son of Berechi′ah, son of Iddo, the prophet.” Specifically, He is referring to an extrabiblical Tradition (found in the Jewish Targums) that the OT minor prophet Zechariah.

            So rather than being a tacit endorsement of the Protestant canon (or canon order), it’s an endorsement of an extra-Scriptural Tradition. I’ve written on it more extensively here if you’re interested in the evidence: From Abel to Zechariah: Did Christ Confirm the Protestant Canon?

            In Christ our Risen Lord,

            Joe

          18. I agree with you that my solution does not generate a “clear and complete” canon, but it was given as a basic rudiment to thwart the RC contention that Protestants are cripples in a wheelchair without the “angel dust” of the magisterium sprinkling down on our heads.
            I might add that your response also generates a problem. In the four points you fault me for, the very first one is a broken leg, which indicates you may be the one needing a wheelchair. You say, “The revelation of Jesus Christ reveals the meaning of the content of the Old Covenant and Old Testament, but that’s not how the early Christians knew which were and weren’t the Scriptures.”
            But then you leave unanswered, the question as to how the early Christians knew which were and weren’t the Scriptures!
            Something to remember is that a “completed canon” under your belt was never necessary for salvation while the canon was in flux, but going back even further, if I were to ask you, “how did a man living 50 years before Christ know that the book of Isaiah was inspired?”….what would you say? Whatever your answer, it must acknowledge the fact that there was no infallible Jewish magisterium on the scene, EVER. Thus, any confidence anyone had in Isaiah would have to be generated by some non-infallible source (aside from the Holy Spirit). That being so, if that very man believed Isaiah to be inspired (and it was), then we who came on the scene later on can have that very same confidence WITHOUT an infallible magisterium in our midst to furnish us with a table of contents. If God didn’t need one back then, He certainly doesn’t need one now.
            A further basic point would be that, who cares if Catholic dignitaries got some things right in the past? It simply does NOT follow that they are to be believed on everything else…especially with the self-appointed claim that Peter would head the Roman church beginning in Matt 16 —even tho Rome happened to be 1500 miles away at the time??? Not on your life.

          19. Daryl,

            My involvement in this is predicated on the idea that we’re both hungry for the Truth who is Jesus Christ. I’m not interested in trying to score cheap rhetorical points, and I expect you to be above that as well.

            The thrust of my comment was that you’re defending your position with demonstrably-false evidence. You took Jesus’ “Abel to Zechariah” line as supporting the Protestant canon, but that’s because you’ve conflated “Zechari′ah the son of Jehoi′ada the priest” with “Zechari′ah the son of Berechi′ah, son of Iddo, the prophet.”

            That’s an easy enough error to make (offhand, who knows the genealogy of any of the Zechariahs mentioned in Scripture?), and I don’t fault you for making a mistake. I do fault you for refusing to admit your mistake now that it’s been pointed out to you. You’ve instead adopted a posture of defensiveness, attacking me for arguments I haven’t even made: including the “‘angel dust’ of the magisterium,” the “Catholic dignitaries [who] got some things right in the past,” etc. This appears to be just evasiveness to divert from your own mistake.

            If you can’t accept even a simple correction on a crystal clear case of mistaken identity, I don’t think we’re going to get much further in pursuing the truth together.

            But let’s get back to why your error matters. If Jesus meant the Zechariah you thought He meant, you would have a colorable case that He was alluding to the Pharisaic TNK structure that is used in modern Jewish Bibles, and which (in modern times) corresponds in content (but not order) to the Protestant OT.

            But without committing that error, your whole case on that point falls completely apart. Instead of Jesus citing the TNK structure, we now realize that He was citing extra-scriptural tradition. What seemed, at first blush, to be a point in favor of sola Scriptura Protestantism turns out to be a point against it.

            I.X.,

            Joe

            P.S. You asked about how the Jews knew that the Book of Isaiah was canonical. They didn’t, not universally. The Sadducees accepted only the Torah (the first five Books of the Bible), and the Pharisees, Essenes, and various Hellenistic groups had their own canons. There was some consensus, but it wasn’t universal. The Catholic Church had a clear canon of Scripture before Judaism did. Even the Talmud quotes the Deuterocanon as Scripture.

  2. Isaiah 9 (Judgments upon Israel for their sins.)
    9:19. By the wrath of the Lord of hosts the land is troubled, and the people shall be as fuel for the fire: no man shall spare his brother.
    9:20. And he shall turn to the right hand, and shall be hungry: and shall eat on the left hand, and shall not be filled: every one shall eat the flesh of his own arm: Manasses Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasses, and they together shall be against Juda. (Meaning: they’ll fight against each other, but also fight simultaneously against Juda).
    ________________________________________
    Isaiah 49
    49:26. And I will feed thy enemies with their own flesh: and they shall be made drunk with their own blood, as with new wine: (Meaning: they’ll fight and harm/kill each other) and all flesh shall know, that I am the Lord that save thee, and thy Redeemer the Mighty One of Jacob.
    ________________________________________
    Jeremiah 19 (Prophecy of desolation for the Jews)
    19:9. And I will feed them with the flesh of their sons, and with the flesh of their daughters: and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend (Meaning: they’ll turn on each other) in the siege, and in the distress wherewith their enemies, and they that seek their lives, shall straiten them.
    ________________________________________
    Baruch 2
    2:2. That the Lord would bring upon us great evils, such as never happened under heaven, as they have come to pass in Jerusalem, according to the things that are written in the law of Moses:
    2:3. That a man should eat the flesh of his own son, and the flesh of his own daughter. (Just like Jesus has prophesied for our own times, that over matters of the faith a man will turn against his father, and daughter against her mother, etc… Matt 10:35).
    ________________________________________
    Ezekiel 39
    39:17. And thou, O son of man, saith the Lord God, say to every fowl, and to all the birds, and to all the beasts of the field: Assemble yourselves, make haste, come together from every side to my victim, which I slay for you, a great victim upon the mountains of Israel: to eat flesh, and drink blood.
    39:18. You shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and you shall drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, and of lambs, and of he goats, and bullocks, and of all that are well fed and fat.
    ________________________________________
    Daniel Chapter 7 (Daniel’s vision of the four beasts, signifying four kingdoms: of God sitting on his throne: and of the opposite kingdoms of Christ and Antichrist.)
    7:1. In the first year of Baltasar, king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream: and the vision of his head was upon his bed: and writing the dream, he comprehended it in a few words: and relating the sum of it in short, he said:
    7:2. I saw in my vision by night, and behold the four winds of the heavens strove upon the great sea.
    7:3. And four great beasts, different one from another, came up out of the sea.
    (Four great beasts. . .Viz., the Chaldean, Persian, Grecian, and Roman empires.)
    7:4. The first was like a lioness, and had the wings of an eagle: I beheld till her wings were plucked off, and she was lifted up from the earth, and stood upon her feet as a man, and the heart of a man was given to her.
    7:5. And behold another beast, like a bear, stood up on one side: and there were three rows in the mouth thereof, and in the teeth thereof, and thus they said to it: Arise, devour much flesh (Meaning: wage war on these four godless empires).

  3. Micah 3 (For the sins of the rich oppressing the poor, of false prophets flattering for lucre, and of judges perverting justice, Jerusalem and the temple shall be destroyed.)
    3:1. And I said: Hear, O ye princes of Jacob, and ye chiefs of the house of Israel: Is it not your part to know judgment,
    3:2. You that hate good, and love evil: that violently pluck off their skins from them and their flesh from their bones?
    3:3. Who have eaten the flesh of my people (Meaning: persecuted them), and have flayed their skin off them: and have broken, and chopped their bones as for the kettle, and as flesh in the midst of the pot.
    ________________________________________
    Zechariah 11
    11:9. And I said: I will not feed you: that which dieth, let it die: and that which is cut off, let it be cut off: and let the rest devour every one the flesh of his neighbour.
    11:16. For behold I will raise up a shepherd in the land, who shall not visit what is forsaken, nor seek what is scattered, nor heal what is broken, nor nourish that which standeth, and he shall eat the flesh of the fat ones, and break their hoofs.
    ________________________________________
    Romans 14
    14:21. It is good not to eat flesh and not to drink wine (Meaning: have dissensions among yourselves, slander, attack or do harm to each other): nor any thing whereby thy brother is offended or scandalized or made weak.
    ________________________________________
    James 5 (A woe to the rich that oppress the poor. Exhortations to patience and to avoid swearing. Of the anointing the sick, confession of sins and fervour in prayer.)
    5:1. Go to now, ye rich men: weep and howl in your miseries, which shall come upon you.
    5:2. Your riches are corrupted: and your garments are motheaten.
    5:3. Your gold and silver is cankered: and the rust of them shall be for a testimony against you and shall eat your flesh like fire (Meaning: harm you). You have stored up to yourselves wrath against the last days.
    ________________________________________
    Revelations 19
    19:16. And he hath on his garment and on his thigh written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
    19:17. And I saw an angel standing in the sun: and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that did fly through the midst of heaven: Come, gather yourselves together to the great supper of God:
    19:18. That you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of tribunes and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of them that sit on them: and the flesh of all freemen and bondmen and of little and of great.
    19:19. And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies, gathered together to make war with him that sat upon the horse and with his army.
    19:20. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet who wrought signs before him, wherewith he seduced them who received the character of the beast and who adored his image. These two were cast alive into the pool of fire burning with brimstone.
    19:21. And the rest were slain by the sword of him that sitteth upon the horse, which proceedeth out of his mouth: and all the birds were filled with their flesh.

  4. Thanks for the extra lesson, Francis. It’s a great supplement to Joe’s excellent exegesis! Also, I was very happy to stumble across Joe on the Vocation Boom radio show on Saturday while I was driving. My wife also got to listen in. Joe was as coherent in speaking as he is in writing, which is a double gift from God. I hope Joe makes good friends with EWTN and Immaculate Heart Radio, as the broadcasts and listeners will greatly benefit by his many detailed theological insights. May God bless to all who teach the Holy Faith to others!

  5. Excellent work, Joe. I’ve always pointed out the “doubling down” and intensity of his language. In 6:53 he uses “phagete” for eat, but in 6:54 he uses “trogon,” which I’ve been told means something more like “gnaw.” I like how you distinguish this passage from the other figurative uses.

    BTW, I heard you on Vocation Boom yesterday. God bless you and guide you ion your discernment and formation.

  6. Joe,

    In my opinion, you have not really answered the original objection of the sympathetic Anglican. In fact, I’d say this is simply your version of the standard spin on John 6 that most of Rome’s apologists take.

    What is intriguing to me is where you draw the line between misunderstanding and correction. For example, it simply boggles the mind that anyone could read John 3 and come away with the idea that Jesus had corrected Nicodemus’ misunderstanding. On the contrary, we see the same intensification of his words that we see in all the other cases of Johannine misunderstanding. It does not thereby follow, however, that Nicodemus or the Samaritan Woman at the well had correctly grasped the spiritual intent behind his highly metaphorical language.

    But even more fundament concerns your definition of the word “literally.” Trying to figure out what you mean by it is sort of like trying to hit a moving target. What, pray tell, is the difference between “literal” and “overly literal” in your article? You use these terms as if it is self-evident to your reader where the dividing line between these two concepts lie. For the sacramental realist, the dividing line seems to be thus: literal = sacramental, and more specifically transubstantiation, if you’re a Roman Catholic.

    Overly literal, therefore, = cannibalism, since to take Jesus “too literally,” would be to cross over into the crass sort of literalism that leads to the conclusion that Jesus was advocating a literal act of cannibalism.

    I, on the other hand, would say that the “literal” meaning of John 6 is decidedly metaphorical. He was using “figurative” language, which was his custom (cf, John 16:25). And just as Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman *misunderstood* Jesus precisely because they took him literally rather than figuratively, so too did those who thought he was requiring a literal act of cannibalism, when in reality was speaking figuratively about believing in him, not believing that bread had turned into him.

    You might be interested in interacting with a couple of my own blog articles on this topic, which I think are sufficient to stand as a refutation of your arguments in this one. See the following links:

    http://fallibility.blogspot.com/2013/05/jesus-corrector-roman-catholics-and.html

    http://fallibility.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-flesh-profits-nothing-roman.html

    http://fallibility.blogspot.ca/2013/08/to-eat-to-chew-and-to-eschew-romes.html

    http://fallibility.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-judas-shuffle-roman-catholic.html

    Blessings to you,

    Michael Taylor

    1. Michael,

      In my opinion, you have not really answered the original objection of the sympathetic Anglican. In fact, I’d say this is simply your version of the standard spin on John 6 that most of Rome’s apologists take.

      How so? You make this claim, but I don’t see you actually defending it.

      I spelled out two major reasons: (1) In John 6, Jesus Leads Them to Literalism.; (2) In John 6, There’s No Correction. I don’t think you even acknowledged the first of these points, but I think it answers much of your objection. You might disagree with my answers, but to claim that I’m not making answers (when anyone reading this can see that I am) just makes your position look silly.

      For example, it simply boggles the mind that anyone could read John 3 and come away with the idea that Jesus had corrected Nicodemus’ misunderstanding. On the contrary, we see the same intensification of his words that we see in all the other cases of Johannine misunderstanding.

      Christ explains that He means a spiritual rebirth (John 3:6) of water and the Spirit (John 3:5). John then connects this with Baptism (John 3:22). That sounds like He’s correcting Nicodemus’ misunderstanding. You claim to have your mind boggled that anyone could conclude this.

      Well prepare to have your mind further boggled, then. As St. Thomas Aquinas notes in the Catena Aurea, this is exactly what St. John Chyrsostom and St. Augustine claim is going on here:

      “CHRYS. While Nicodemus stumbles, dwelling upon our birth here, Christ reveals more clearly the manner of our spiritual birth; Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say to you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

      AUG. As if He said, You understand me to speak of a carnal birth; but a man must be born of water and of the Spirit, if he is to enter into the kingdom of God. If to obtain the temporal inheritance of his human father, a man must be born of the womb of his mother; to obtain the eternal inheritance of his heavenly Father, he must be born of the womb of the Church. And since man consists of two parts, body and soul, the mode even of this latter birth is twofold; water the visible part cleansing the body; the Spirit by His invisible cooperation, changing the invisible soul.”

      Those are, respectively, the single greatest Eastern Church Father and the single greatest Western Church Father. Who agrees with your exegesis?

      It does not thereby follow, however, that Nicodemus or the Samaritan Woman at the well had correctly grasped the spiritual intent behind his highly metaphorical language.

      That’s not the point. The point is that they realized it was metaphorical language. They went from thinking it was literal to thinking it was a metaphor (even if it was one that they didn’t fully understand). In John 6, the people start out thinking it’s a metaphor, and end up thinking it’s literal.

      (cont.)

    2. But even more fundament concerns your definition of the word “literally.” Trying to figure out what you mean by it is sort of like trying to hit a moving target.

      Not at all. In those cases where a literal interpretation was taken and shouldn’t have been, I referred to it as “overly-literal.” In every case mentioned, they’re taking Jesus literally. In all of the cases but John 6, the text makes clear that they’re taking Him too literally: that is, taking Him literally when He isn’t speaking literally.

      Nothing in the post had anything to with cannibalism: you’re the only one who’s mentioned that. That’s not a matter of taking Jesus literally (or overly-literally) in being Flesh and Blood. It’s a flawed understanding of how we receive Jesus in His Flesh and Blood. The question of how we receive Jesus in the Eucharist is separate from whether the Eucharist is Jesus, so let’s leave it to one side for now.

      I, on the other hand, would say that the “literal” meaning of John 6 is decidedly metaphorical.

      Again, what you see as obviously metaphorical wasn’t seen that way by the Jews of the time, or the early Christians, including St. John’s own disciples (like St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Polycarp). Nor is it clear how “For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” (John 6:55) means “believe in Me.” Nor did the Jews use eating Flesh and drinking Blood language as a positive metaphor, much less as a metaphor for belief (as Francis Choudhury shows at great length, above).

      Nor does your explanation actually explain the Scriptural passage in any coherent manner. Jesus had already claimed that we needed to believe in Him (John 5:21-24), including to this very crowd (John 6:28-29). They didn’t freak out and leave. Rather, they asked, (John 6:30): “Then what sign do you do, that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform?”

      And your claim is that instead of answering this objection, Jesus just gave a series of convoluted metaphors to say the same thing that He’d already said? And that suddenly, the people were shocked and scandalized by what they’d taken in stride a few verses before, to the point that He lost disciples over this? Why would His disciples be scandalized at Him saying to believe in Him, anyways?

      I.X.,

      Joe

    3. Joe,

      >>How so? You make this claim, but I don’t see you actually defending it.<<

      What I meant to say was that I don’t see you *successfully* answering the original objection. I did not mean to suggest that you did not answer it all, only that your answer did not overcome the force of the original objection. The purpose of leaving you the links was precisely to defend that claim, since I am in substantial agreement with the original objector. That said, I am happy to do that here instead, but I don’t think I could do so in a series of com-boxes.

      >>I spelled out two major reasons: (1) In John 6, Jesus Leads Them to Literalism.;<<

      Which I deny. Not only is the language consistent with his other uses of metaphorical language, but also there is the thorny problem of what exactly you mean by “literal.” In other words, if the Jews had taken his words about eating flesh and drinking blood “literally,” they could have only concluded that Jesus was requiring an act of cannibalism, which of course explains their question: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” This is exactly parallel to Nicodemus’ question: “How can a man be born when he is old….” In other words, it is the literal understanding of Jesus’ words that is the misunderstanding. You have it entirely backwards.

      >>2) In John 6, There’s No Correction. I don’t think you even acknowledged the first of these points, but I think it answers much of your objection. You might disagree with my answers, but to claim that I’m not making answers (when anyone reading this can see that I am) just makes your position look silly.<<

      On your first point about “no correction,” so what? What exactly do you think that proves? It’s a basic logical fallacy to argue that if there is no correction, then they must have correctly understood him to be speaking literally. (It’s called denying the antecedent. I go into more depth on this point in the first article I provided for you, so I’ll spare you the details for now.). On the second point about not addressing the issue, see my remarks above. Of course you addressed it. I just deny that you overcame the objection–just so we’re understanding each other.

      >>Christ explains that He means a spiritual rebirth (John 3:6) of water and the Spirit (John 3:5). John then connects this with Baptism (John 3:22). That sounds like He’s correcting Nicodemus’ misunderstanding.<<

      After this, therefore because of this? Let me get this straight. Because John 3:22 mentions baptism, you conclude that John 3:5 must therefore be about baptism? How, exactly, does that follow? Actually, I withdraw the question. We have enough on our plate with the eucharist already (no pun intended). That said, I still do not see the “explanation” to which you are referring. In other words, I think we both agree that Nicodemus misunderstood Jesus. What I do not see, however, is Jesus correcting Nicodemus. I see him rebuking Nicodemus for not understanding. But I don’t see him saying words to the effect of, “Whoa, Nico, easy there. No one is talking about going back into the womb here.” Instead, what I see is Jesus intensifying he earlier marks about being born again. As Bill Burns put it in a previous com box, Jesus “doubles down.” I like that. I would have said he “ups the ante.” He does this all the time in John’s Gospel, often with his double “amens.” The point, of course, is that Jesus doesn’t make it any easier to understand what he requires; rather he makes it all the more difficult: Being born from above by water and Spirit, drinking living water, eating flesh and blood–they’re all of a piece: Unless the Sovereign God decisively intervenes (John 1:13), fallen man, cannot and will not come to Jesus in faith.

      continued…

    4. continued from previous….

      >>You claim to have your mind boggled that anyone could conclude this. Well prepare to have your mind further boggled, then. As St. Thomas Aquinas notes in the Catena Aurea, this is exactly what St. John Chyrsostom and St. Augustine claim is going on here:<<

      Fair enough. Let’s see where you’re going with this:

      >>“CHRYS. While Nicodemus stumbles, dwelling upon our birth here, Christ reveals more clearly the manner of our spiritual birth; Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say to you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.<<

      Honestly, Joe. I don’t see that Golden Mouth is saying anything different here on this point. Jesus certainly does “reveal more clearly” what he meant by being “born again.” That, however, does not mean that he corrected Nicodemus. In fact, he simply bypasses Nicodemus’ objection, not really dignifying it at all by stooping down to his level of misunderstanding, but rather he elevates the requirements for belief–namely that unless God gives you new life from above, you have no chance of entering into the kingdom. Please read the highly programmatic prologue to John’s Gospel in which we are told that being “born of God” is not a matter of human choice (“the will of man”). In other words, “there but by the grace of God go we all.” That God Himself would be the one to bring his sheep safely into his fold is something a teacher of Israel should have known–hence Jesus’ rebuke of Nicodemus, not his gentle “correction.” Next.

      >>AUG. As if He said, You understand me to speak of a carnal birth; but a man must be born of water and of the Spirit, if he is to enter into the kingdom of God. If to obtain the temporal inheritance of his human father, a man must be born of the womb of his mother; to obtain the eternal inheritance of his heavenly Father, he must be born of the womb of the Church. And since man consists of two parts, body and soul, the mode even of this latter birth is twofold; water the visible part cleansing the body; the Spirit by His invisible cooperation, changing the invisible soul.”<<

      [Crickets chirping…] Uh, Joe. Where does Augustine say (or even imply!) that Jesus is correcting Nicodemus’ misunderstanding? It seems to me that Augustine is agreeing with both of us on the particular point that Nicodemus misunderstood Jesus precisely because he was taking him literally (“Can a man go back into his mother’s womb?”). In other words, both quotes seem to be supporting my point, not yours.

      continued….

    5. continued from previous

      >>That’s not the point. The point is that they realized it was metaphorical language. They went from thinking it was literal to thinking it was a metaphor (even if it was one that they didn’t fully understand). In John 6, the people start out thinking it’s a metaphor, and end up thinking it’s literal.<<

      I don’t see that either assertion is true. It looks to me that all three parties (Nicodemus, the Samaritan Woman, and the grumbling Jews) all took Jesus literally and that this was precisely why they misunderstood him. As to the question whether or not any of them eventually came to understand that Jesus was speaking figuratively to illustrate a higher spiritual truth, we have no quarrel. It is not my claim that Nicodemus, et alia, *never* understood; rather I am claiming that Jesus *never* corrected their misunderstanding. In other words, Jesus simply pressed on with his teaching, (doubling down, and upping the ante), and eventually they came to understand that he was speaking figuratively, not literally–or better, spiritually rather than carnally.

      As for the second claim that Jesus started off metaphorically and then ended up literally, I’d simply say that I see no reason to suppose this at all. What exactly leads you to the conclusion that Jesus switched from figurative to literal language? And if he was speaking literally, then how would this not entail cannibalism?

      In other words, you’re introducing a sacramental tertium quid–“literal” (read “sacramental”) but not “over literal” (read: cannibalism) in a text where no sacramentalism is to be found.

    6. continued from previous…

      >>Not at all. In those cases where a literal interpretation was taken and shouldn’t have been, I referred to it as “overly-literal.” In every case mentioned, they’re taking Jesus literally. In all of the cases but John 6, the text makes clear that they’re taking Him too literally: that is, taking Him literally when He isn’t speaking literally<<

      Perhaps I’m slow to catch on here. But what exactly is the distinction between “literal” and “over literal” in your opinion? What should be the exegetical result of taking Jesus “literally?” And what should the exegetical result be of taking him “over-literally?”

      >>Nothing in the post had anything to with cannibalism: you’re the only one who’s mentioned that.<<

      How can I not? Help me understand how it is possible to take Jesus’ words about eating flesh and drinking blood “literally,” and coming up with anything other than cannibalism. Here I am putting myself in the place of the grumbling Jew who first heard these words and thinking what they would have understood him to be saying.

      >>Again, what you see as obviously metaphorical wasn’t seen that way by the Jews of the time,<<

      Right! They were taking him literally. But was he speaking literally? I say no, for the same reasons we know that he wasn’t speaking literally about being born again or drinking living water.

      >> or the early Christians, including St. John’s own disciples (like St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Polycarp).<<

      In what precise sense do you think they understood Jesus’ eucharistic words? How exactly do you think their understanding differed from mine?

      continued….

    7. continued from previous…

      >>Nor is it clear how “For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” (John 6:55) means “believe in Me.” Nor did the Jews use eating Flesh and drinking Blood language as a positive metaphor, much less as a metaphor for belief (as Francis Choudhury shows at great length, above).<<

      This is a bit too complicated to answer is a short com-box, but I would come to my answer by reading this passage contextually to see that the metaphor is simply a parallel to the non-metaphorical requirements to believe in him. As for the idea that flesh eating was not a positive metaphor, no quarrel here. It was a very negative one. But I’m not sure what the precise objection is here. Are you saying that Jesus was somehow bound to previous usage of those terms? I hope not, for that would then commit you to theory that we revile Jesus in the eucharist. So perhaps Jesus was using this language in an unprecedented way.

      >>Nor does your explanation actually explain the Scriptural passage in any coherent manner. Jesus had already claimed that we needed to believe in Him (John 5:21-24), including to this very crowd (John 6:28-29). They didn’t freak out and leave. Rather, they asked, (John 6:30): “Then what sign do you do, that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform?”<<

      Please expand on this point. If I’m following you (and I’m not sure that I am) you seem to be juxtaposing the earlier “plain” language to the later “metaphorical” language (assuming, for the sake of argument that it is). But the assumption here is that if they did not “freak out” at the plain language, then they should not have freaked out at the figurative (again, assuming figurative language for the sake of argument). Explain to me how exactly that follows (if that indeed is your assumption).

      >>And your claim is that instead of answering this objection, Jesus just gave a series of convoluted metaphors to say the same thing that He’d already said?<<

      Repetitio est mater studiorum. He’s being a good teacher (and John a good theologian). Making the same point with both plain and figurative language is simply good teaching in that it reinforces the same truth without being redundant.

      >>And that suddenly, the people were shocked and scandalized by what they’d taken in stride a few verses before, to the point that He lost disciples over this? Why would His disciples be scandalized at Him saying to believe in Him, anyways? <<

      I don’t think that the requirement to believe in him (or eat his flesh and drink his blood) is what scandalized his disciples. If you read the text closely (that is, in context), it seems that it his teaching about the drawing of the Father that sent them over the edge.

      Blessings to you,

      Mike Taylor

    8. “I don’t think that the requirement to believe in him (or eat his flesh and drink his blood) is what scandalized his disciples. If you read the text closely (that is, in context), it seems that it his teaching about the drawing of the Father that sent them over the edge.”

      WHAT?

      The crowd cries: “This is a hard teaching! Who can bear it? HOW CAN THIS MAN GIVE US HIS FLESH TO EAT?”

      And now it’s proposed that it was actually some teaching about the “drawing of the Father” that sent them over the edge, not the prospect of having to eat flesh and drink blood? This has to be one of the weirdest bits of exegeses/apologetics arguments I’ve ever heard. And I’ve heard quite a few in my lifetime! At least other apologists who deny the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist agree that it was the command to eat flesh and drink blood that didn’t sit well with the crowd, who – allegedly mistakenly – understood it literally. Now it’s being suggested that that propsect didn’t in fact faze the crowd at all – something ELSE did! Are we even speaking the same language here – literally? Bah, humbug!

    9. Hello Francis,

      I apologize for my lack of specificity here and I completely understand your reaction. I had in mind John 6:66 and the specific reason why some of his disciples no longer walked with him. The verse says, “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.” Contextually, the nearest antecedent to “this” in the phrase, “after this,” would be the statement Jesus makes in the previous verse: John 6:65: “And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

      Yes, the grumbling jews were scandalized by the requirement to eat his flesh and drink his blood precisely because they understood Jesus to be requiring an act of cannibalism, which is the only reasonable inference to make if Jesus were speaking literally (which, of course, he was not, hence their misunderstanding).

      But we were talking about his *disciples* and the reason for why they were scandalized. That made me assume that Joe had John 6:66 in mind since it is here that specific mention of his “disciples” is made.

      Given that understanding, I hope you can now see why I think it was Jesus’ teaching in John 6:65 that they found most objectionable. The teaching that no one can come to Jesus unless it is granted by the Father is a difficult truth for many to accept, especially for non-Augustinians.

      Having said that, I don’t think “after this” in John 6:66 necessarily excludes all of Jesus’ previous teaching back in 6:53-58. But there is enough contextual “distance” here to persuade me that it is the nearest (rather than furthest) antecedent that is probably uppermost in mind–hence my belief that his former disciples were scandalized by Jesus’ doctrine of election rather than his doctrine of the eucharist.

      Hope that clarifies things.

      Blessings to you!

      Mike Taylor

  7. Amateur exegetes, not properly learned, display a tragic (and extremely dangerous) lack of understanding of the traditions and customs of the times in (the context of) which Jesus taught. Hence their shallow, alternative exegeses of so many passages of the Catholic Church’s Sacred Scripture end up all over the place.

    For instance, it was a binding obligation for every Jewish rabbi to correct his listeners if they (patently) misunderstood anything that he said. Failure to do this was considered a gross breach of sacred teaching responsibility, and brought disgrace on the rabbi and undermined his credibility. Jesus was no exception. He would’ve failed one of His primary duties as a Teacher if he did not correct any misunderstanding of His teachings by the Jews – such as the ones who walked away from Truth and no longer followed Him after his discourse in John 6. But He let them walk! And that is precisely because He meant His words literally and the crowd understood Him correctly – i.e., literally. This is the only record we have of any of Christ’s followers forsaking him for doctrinal reasons. If they merely had misunderstood Him, if they foolishly had taken a metaphor in a literal sense, why did He not call them back and straighten things out? But He did not correct these first protesters, these proto-Protestants. Twelve times He said He was the bread that came down from heaven; four times He said they would have “to eat my flesh and drink my blood”. John 6 was an extended promise of what would be instituted at the Last Supper — and it was a promise that could not be more explicit.

    The Jewish Todah Sacrifice (second in importance only to the Passover), the Feast of Unleaven Bread, the concept of the “bread of God” in the Old Testament – all these and more are perfectly brought to fullness and fulfilled via the Eucharist, which is the heart and substance of the eternal, time transcending sacrifice of Christ, the slain Lamb standing today before the throne of His Father. Anyone wishing to truly understand the Eucharist must first educate himself/herself about these Jewish religious rituals, which were commanded by God Himself, centuries before (and in preparation for) the one and only acceptable sacrifice of His Son Himself. Failure to understand the significance, purpose and prefiguring nature of these rituals results in abject failure to understand the Sacrifice of Calvary itself!

    In Jewish Tradition, it was mandatory for every member of the haburah (company of believers) to EAT the equivalent of an olive (ke-zayit) of the sacrificed Passover lamb. Any abstainer was cast out (excommunicated) from the Jewish polity and could return only after much penance and sacrifice. So it is that every member of the Body of Christ is obliged to EAT the BODY of the sacrificed Lamb of God at least once a year, during the Paschal season of Easter.

    True Christianity is intimately and unalienably linked with Judaism. Protestantism has tragically arrived on the scene from left of field – a mostly barren and un-sacramental field. This alternative Christianity is more preoccupied with dissension, disputation and denial of centuries old truths (Truth) than with any admirable or meaningful efforts to plumb the immense depths of divine revelation for man’s editfication and salvation. Which is why it should be discounted forthwith as such.

    1. Hi CWD,

      Again I will remind you that you will get no reply from me on any matter at all pending your response to the very lengthy reply I gave to you on my blog, which *you* asked for. My point, of course, is simply to ask why you think I should respond to you when you don’t respond in kind. In other words, charity requires reciprocity–dialogue, not monologue. Since you only seem to be interested in monologue, you will get no dialogue from me. Once bitten, twice shy.

      But now that you’ve asked the question, let me ask you this. Who from 100AD to 500AD believed what *you* believe about the Eucharist? I can’t think of anyone who held to transubstantiation, can you?

      And please don’t reply with, “but they held to the doctrine of the real presence.” That is equivalent to no answer at all since Rome doesn’t teach “the doctrine of the real presence,” rather Rome teaches the far more precise and particular doctrine of transubstantiation.

      Blessings to you.

      Mike Taylor

    2. Michael –

      Here you go from 100 AD – 400 AD:

      http://catholicdefense.blogspot.com/2010/11/early-church-fathers-on-eucharist.html

      http://catholicdefense.blogspot.com/2011/01/early-church-fathers-on-eucharist-c-200.html

      http://catholicdefense.blogspot.com/2011/01/early-church-fathers-on-eucharist-c-300.html

      I have no idea how you can state that Rome never taught the doctrine of the real presence. The fact that the real presence is more fully explained by the doctrine of transubstantion does not negate the doctrine of the real presence.

      Now it is your turn to provide someone who believed in the Eucharist like you. I gave you names and dates and I expect the same from you.

    3. >>I have no idea how you can state that Rome never taught the doctrine of the real presence. The fact that the real presence is more fully explained by the doctrine of transubstantion does not negate the doctrine of the real presence.<<

      I can’t believe I’m violating my own rule here, but here goes nothing….

      Show me in the documents where “the doctrine of the real presence” is what has been dogmatically defined. Because what I see is transubstantiation.

      Let me give you an analogy. I am a foreign language teacher. But I don’t teach “foreign language.” I teach “Spanish.” No one speaks “foreign language.” They speak particular languages. Likewise, Rome does not dogmatically hold to “the doctrine of the real presence.” Rome dogmatically defines transubstantiation which is a particular version of “real presence.”

      Further, depending upon what one means by “real presence” almost everyone could affirm some version of “real presence.” I do. (That’s because I can’t conceive of “fake presence”). So I agree that Jesus is “really present” at the eucharist. But I also believe his presence is symbolically mediated through the elements. I don’t believe the elements become him, “really, truly and substantially” or that they are his “body, blood, soul and divinity” in the sense that Rome has historically understood those terms.

    4. Michael Taylor –

      Please give me names and dates of people who believed in the Eucharist like you do from 100 AD – 500 AD. I gave you names and dates of people who view the Eucharist just like I do.

      I’m not looking for your explanation of the Eucharist, just names and dates of people who you think view the Eucharist like yourself in early Christianity. It shouldn’t be that for you to provide such basic evidence.

    5. Michael Taylor –

      Protestant historian, J. N. D. Kelly, writes: “Eucharistic teaching, it should be understood at the outset, was in general unquestioningly realist, i.e., the consecrated bread and wine were taken to be, and were treated and designated as, the Savior’s body and blood.” I found it in many of the works of the Early Church Fathers, including St. Ignatius of Antioch (A.D. 110), St. Justin Martyr (A.D. 151), St. Cyprian of Carthage, (A. D. 251), First Council of Nicaea (A. D. 325), St. Cyril of Jerusalem (A. D. 350), and St. Augustine of Hippo (A. D. 411) .

      Who supports you? Just names and dates. If you believe these people above support you that’s fine as well (although I suspect you won’t make such claim).

    6. Michael Taylor –

      St. Ignatius of Antioch, a student of the Apostle John, wrote sometime between 103-110 A.D. to stay away from the Gnostics, since they “abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the Flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again.”

      St. Cyril of Jerusalem writes back in about 350 A.D., “You have been taught and you are firmly convinced that what looks and tastes like bread and wine is not bread and wine but the Body and the Blood of Christ.” That’s almost everything that Catholicism teaches about the Eucharist, summed up in a single sentence.

      Where is the historical evidence for your view of the Eucharist?

  8. cwdlaw,

    I first came across mention of the long-existing metaphorical meaning of “eating flesh” and “drinking blood” among Middle Easterners in an old book about the Eucharist, written by a Catholic priest, around 1856, I think. Intrigued by it, I tried to research the topic, but couldn’t find much online. Then, on a sudden hunch, I did an electronic search of the entire Bible, just to check if those expressions existed anywhere else in Scripture, and if so, in what context and with what meaning. And, lo and behold, all these passages, which I’ve listed above popped up! You can imagine my amazement and excitement, and gratitude that God had Himself preempted this argument about whether Jesus was speaking metaphorically or literally about our need to eat His Body and drink His Blood: anyone reading these passages must surely abandon the notion that Jesus was speaking metaphorically in John 6.

    P.S. Months later that I discovered that Karl Keating had used the same proof (scriptural proof, not some exegete’s argument or subjective interpretation of a gospel passage!) in one of his articles about the Eucharist. Keating wrote:

    “As John A. O’Brien put it, “the phrase ‘to eat the flesh and drink the blood’, when used figuratively among the Jews, as among the Arabs of today, meant to inflict upon a person some serious injury, especially by calumny or by false accusation. To interpret the phrase figuratively then would be to make our Lord promise life everlasting to the culprit for slandering and hating Him, which would reduce the whole passage to utter nonsense. Christ would be saying, “He that reviles Me has eternal life.” “

    1. Great find and thank you for sharing. Modern man wants those words to mean something completely different and be more of a symbol. This is another reason why I rarely, if ever, trust one person when it comes to their personal interpretation of scripture. They can’t possibly know all of the context and language at issue. Plus, scripture was never written to be a cook book which is how it gets interpreted today IMO.

  9. Hi Joe. Thanks for the post and causing me to wrestle over this in my mind once again.

    At the risk of opening up the proverbial justification can of worms, D.A.Carson’s comment on “sacramentarian theology” (Carson, p. 278) has persuaded me against your overall stance. Carson says: “What is promised to the person who eats Jesus’ flesh and drinks his blood is eternal life and resurrection at the last day (6:54), and such things are elsewhere in the Fourth Gospel promised to those who believe in the Son, or receive him” (1991, p. 278). This is convincing as I am forced to conclude that either Jesus is speaking metaphorically or eternal life and resurrection are granted as a result of the partaking of this sacrament. I am not comfortable with the latter conclusion.

    1. Bountifully Blessed,

      Thanks for your comment! I agree with you and D.A. Carson, as to your first premise: “either Jesus is speaking metaphorically or eternal life and resurrection are granted as a result of the partaking of this sacrament.”

      But, as Called to Communion has shown, the Early Church Fathers take the second of these options. So, for example, St. Augustine says: “He [Jesus] walked here in the same flesh, and gave us the same flesh to be eaten unto salvation. But no one eats that flesh unless he first adores it; and thus it is discovered how such a footstool of the Lord’s feet is adored; and not only do we not sin by adoring, we do sin by not adoring.”

      Of course, we should inquire about what it means to say that the Eucharist is necessary for salvation. Here’s how then-Cardinal Ratzinger explained it in Behold the Pierced One:

      “The Eucharist is our participation in the Easter mystery, and hence it is constitutive of the Church, the Body of Christ. This is why the Eucharist is necessary for salvation. The necessity of the Eucharist is identical with the necessity of the Church and vice versa. This is how we should understand the Lord’s saying: ‘Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you’ (Jn 6:53). Hence we see the necessity, too, of a visible Church and a visible, concrete (and one might say ‘institutional’) unity. The most intimate mystery of communion between God and man is accessible in the sacrament of the Body of the Risen Lord; conversely, then, the mystery lays claim to our bodies and is realized in a Body. The Church, which is built upon the sacrament of the Body of Christ, must herself be a body. And she must be a single body, corresponding to Jesus Christ’s uniqueness, a uniqueness which is reflected in unity and in the ‘continuing in’ the one, apostolic teaching.”

      Now, I recognize that this teaching might still make you uncomfortable. Good! After all, if even Jesus’ disciples responded to it by saying “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” (John 6:60), we should expect it to be a bit uncomfortable. In fact, it’s this easy escapism, this reduction of so many hard teachings (for example, about the necessity of Baptism and the Eucharist) to mere metaphors, that should set off alarm bells, because it cuts against both the plain words of Scripture, the overall tone of Scripture, and the clear and unambiguous teachings of the Church Fathers. At least as a Catholic, it sounds like what St. Paul warned about in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.”*

      So I would encourage you to take the challenge Carson presents seriously, but to base your resolution on it off of the Scriptures and the Scriptural interpretation offered by the earliest Christians, rather than how convenient or inconvenient the doctrine may be. God bless you!

      I.X.,

      Joe

      *By the way, St. Paul warned that these destructive heresies would come up in the future. So one of the surest ways to determine if something is true or false is to see if it can be traced back to the Apostles as a continual line of teaching. The belief that the Eucharist actually is the Body and Blood of Christ can be traced from the Apostles to their students, and so on. The belief that the Eucharist is just a symbol, or that it remains bread and wine after the consecration cannot be.

    2. Bountifully Blessed,

      I couldn’t resist. Here are a few of the references (all taken from the Called to Communion link above), showing what I mean the earliest Fathers on the Eucharist.

      1) St. Ignatius, writing about 107:

      “They [those with heterodox opinions] abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again.”

      2) St. Justin Martyr, writing about 160:

      “For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change (transmutation) of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus.”

      3) St. Irenaeus of Lyons, writing around 220:

      “When, therefore, the mixed cup [wine and water] and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life—flesh which is nourished by the body and blood of the Lord, and is in fact a member of him?”

      Now, St. Irenaeus learned from St. Justin Martyr and St. Polycarp (the latter being one of the Apostle John’s students). St. Ignatius was himself a student of John’s. If John 6 was just a drawn-out and confusing metaphor, it’s baffling that the earliest students of John were so convinced it wasn’t.

      I.X.,

      Joe

    3. Michael Taylor –

      Where is your list of people in early Christian history that believed in the Eucharist the way you believe? I believe that early Christian history is crystal clear. In fact, the liturgy of the Mass pre-dated some of the NT itself and yet you assert the Mass, as understood by Catholics, is incorrect.

  10. bountifully_blessed –

    How can you have eternal life if you reject the words and commands of Christ? Isn’t true belief following his commands? Isn’t eating him receiving him? You are interpreting the Bible in a way that whenever salvation is referenced that everything ever said about it must be contained in the same section or else footnoted. Scripture wasn’t written in that manner. I urge you to examine history to find a set of believers who thought the Eucharist was a metaphor. Why do you think such people don’t exist?

  11. Michael,

    No Christian I know, Catholic or other, will buy your argument that the Jews walked away because they were offended in the least by Jesus’ reference to election. It’d be interesting to see how many exegetes/apologists you can point to, who hold that view.

    If you understand “context” of scripture to refer merely or mainly to an immediate antecedent line in a passage (and not the entire passage and, indeed, other passages of scripture which are tied to it by sacred circumlocution) then Matt 26: 26 & 28 would surely present a mighty challenge to you. “Take, eat; this is my body” and “Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood”. The immediate antecedents here are “eat” and “drink” and the referred materials are “my body” and “my blood”. (Also, there’s a strange but telling little word in that second command: “all”. As in: “Drink all of it, because every drop of it is my own, precious, life giving blood. All other blood – human or animal – is just a symbol of life, which is why my Father has always forbidden you to drink it. But this is different. This is my blood, the real, eternal-life giving blood, which mankind has yearned for, over all these ages! Drink, and be saved from eternal death! Drink, and you will rise to eternal life! Drink, and be satisfied!”)

    Here’s another interesting tidbit for you to ponder. The Passover always involved the consumption of a sacrificed lamb – by God’s own solemn mandate. Only the Essenes (a pious sect of Jews) did not celebrate it with a lamb – because they refused to set foot in the corrupt temple for sacrifice. The Upper Room was in the Essene quarter of the city. We know this because Jesus, when instructing Peter and John to make preparations for the Passover, told them to look out for a man carrying a jar of water. Jewish men, as a rule, did not carry water, only the women did. The only Jewish men who were forced to carry water were the Essenes, because they were celibate men. So Jesus celebrates the Last Supper among the Essenes – in the house of the Essene carrying the pitcher of water. It is not yet Passover for the Jews, but Jesus (God Himself) has suddenly brought the festival forward: “I have longed to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” There is no lamb on the table, no mention of it in any of the Gospels. Just bread and wine. This would be a violation of God’s command regarding the sacred Passover ritual. But it is not. There is no lamb on the table, because there is the Lamb of God Himself at the table – the Lamb Who takes away the sins of the world. It is He who the disciples will be feeding on that night. Just as He had brought the entire Passover forward in time, Christ also brought forward its elements – the sacrificed flesh and blood of the Lamb, to be eaten and drunk – in the form of bread and wine. Blood “which is shed for many for the remission of sins”. Note: Jesus says, “is” shed – i.e., “is” given for you, now – not “is to be shed” tomorrow. Note also that it was the day of Unleavened Bread (Luke 22: 7). What, or rather Who, is the true “unleavened bread”, “come down from heaven”, in all its life giving fullness, unlike the manna in the desert, that man must eat if he is to be in communion with God?

    Quit your blogging and your arguing for a while, Michael, I’d say, and withdraw to a quiet place, asking the Lord to personally take you deeper into the breathtakingly profound and glorious mysteries of our salvation. Christ wants you “in” Him, not just intellectually, nor even just spiritually, but comprehensively and totally, just as He is in the Father and the Father in Him. Without partaking of the authentic Eucharist, in which Christ is present substantially (Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity), we can never achieve such an union this side of heaven. Yet that is exactly what Christ seeks – and decrees.

  12. Thanks for your reply, Joseph.

    I’ll concede/agree completely that those incidents in John definitely can’t be said to conform to one pattern as my original comment said. I’d like to explore John 6 a bit more, though.

    1. You said that in John 6, Jesus is leading the crowd toward literalism, and there is no spiritualising clarification.
    It seems to me that Jesus doesn’t push the crowd toward literalism; the crowd wasn’t saying “This stuff about eating Him must be a metaphor”; the problem in John 6:34 is that they were saying “This bread of heaven stuff must be something separate from Jesus Himself” and in John 6:52 the problem is that they outright reject the teaching. He reiterates the teaching and the people are, in effect, asked to “take it or leave it” without any further explanation.

    2. I also have trouble with your description of verses 48-58 as being explicitly Eucharistic. Again, it seems to me that here, Jesus is just reiterating the necessity of participating in Him to attain eternal life. Of course, the Eucharist *is* a participation in Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16) so the passage will get you to sacramentalism, but I don’t think one can treat the language of eating flesh and blood here as referring specifically to His Bodily Presence in the Eucharist.

    You also wrote:
    “what you see as obviously metaphorical wasn’t seen that way by the Jews of the time, or the early Christians, including St. John’s own disciples (like St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Polycarp). Nor is it clear how “For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” (John 6:55) means “believe in Me.”

    3. You mention Polycarp teaching the Real Presence. Where can this be found?
    4. We have indication that, at least for Ignatius writing to the Smyrnaeans, the voabulary of participating in Christ’s flesh and blood is not necessarily Eucharistic:
    “For I know and believe that He was in the flesh
    even after the resurrection; and when He came to Peter and his company, He said to them, Lay hold and handle me, and see that I
    am not a demon without body. And straightway they
    touched Him, and they believed, being joined unto His
    flesh and His blood.

    6. In Vatican City, is it considered impious to play versions of Pokemon other than Silver and Gold?

    Hi Francis, you wrote:
    “For instance, it was a binding obligation for every Jewish rabbi to correct his listeners if they (patently) misunderstood anything that he said. Failure to do this was considered a gross breach of sacred teaching responsibility, and brought disgrace on the rabbi and undermined his credibility. Jesus was no exception.”
    What about Matthew 13:11-13?
    And the disciples came, and said unto him, “Why speakest thou unto them in parables?” He answered and said unto them, “because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.”
    “If they merely had misunderstood Him, if they foolishly had taken a metaphor in a literal sense, why did He not call them back and straighten things out?”
    Well, He didn’t straighten them out in John 2 or in many other places in the Bible. He wasn’t under any obligation to.

  13. [Part 1 of 2]

    Hi Cale,

    In Matt 13 Jesus doesn’t in the least violate His duty as a Rabbi to clear up any obvious misunderstanding of His teachings by His listeners.

    The crowd in Matt 13 did not so much mis-understand Jesus’ teachings as flat out refuse to believe Him – no matter what He said. Included in their number were hostile scribes and Pharisees, who not only refused to accept His word, they actually accused Him of satanism, demanded (cynically) a sign from Him which might establish His credibility, and in fact, were plotting against Him. Indeed, they didn’t even accept Jesus as a Rabbi – derogatively referring to Him as “this fellow”. And when they did address Him as “Master”, they were merely being sarcastic.

    The context for the passage you’ve referred to is evident in the scene in the previous chapter.

    “Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him” Matt 12:14.

    “But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils” Matt 12:24.

    “Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt 12: 38-40).

    This was the most important parable Jesus used with the crowd – foretelling the sign which He would perform for them (as they had been demanding), indeed, the greatest sign of all in Christianity: His resurrection from the dead.

    To His disciples’ query about His decision to speak only in parables to the crowd (who Jesus knew would not believe anything He said directly), Jesus responds:

    “[…] Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given” (Matt 13:11).

    “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them” (Matt 13:13).

    So you see, it was not a matter of Jesus not clarifying anything which had been misunderstood, it was a case of Him not speaking at greater length or in more direct terms to a particular audience, because His words were not being accepted, and because it was obvious from their cynicism (and indeed hostility) that they would not believe Him no matter what He said or even what sign He performed. To “not understand” (because of a closed/biased mind) and to “misunderstand” (while listening sincerely) are two entirely different things altogether. It is in the latter event that a Rabbi is always under solemn obligation to clarify matters.

  14. [Part 2 of 2]

    Regarding John 2, coincidentally, Jesus’ veiled teaching there was also about His resurrection. He did not clarify what He meant at that time for a simple reason: He had just started His ministry and there was no way the audience (including His disciples) would’ve believed Him. Indeed they had great difficulty believing Him about this even much later, even on the eve of His sacred Passion and Death. The clarification *did* come eventually – with the fulfilment of the prophecy, the Resurrection itself. It was all a matter of timing, in accordance with divine wisdom.

    I recall reading a beautiful explanation of this some time ago, but can’t for the life of me remember now, where and by who, or I’d refer you to it. God is slow with us precisely because we’re unable to grasp His mysteries and His wisdom all at once. That’s why all of us are lifelong projects en route to full and clear knowledge of Him. The explanation I read for Jesus not (ever) speaking more explicitly about His rising from the dead was: so it would be self revealing, near impossible to dispute, and have maximum effect when it happened. In fact, even in the conversation with Christ on the road to Emmaus, the disciples were struggling to understand the phenomenon of the Resurrection (Luke 24: 20-24). But believe eventually they did, and to the extent that many even laid down their lives for Him.

    You know, Cale, often when I’m in conversations like this with fellow Christians, the question that invariably pops up in my mind is “What think ye of Christ?” You concluded your comment by saying “Well, He didn’t straighten them out in John 2 or in many other places in the Bible. He wasn’t under any obligation to.” Really? Is that how God is? If someone is sincerely seeking Him, would God not unfailingly use a thousand means to gradually make Himself and His will known to him? Is He not “under obligation” as a loving Father to lead His seeking children, via His Spirit, into all truth? Could it ever be otherwise? Unlike you, I would contend that God, by His very definition, is “obliged” to do just that! If He doesn’t do so all at once, it is only because, as I have said earlier, we have ears that are often hard of hearing or eyes that are often hard of seeing. But perfect love always, most generously, and ceaselessly, seeks to bring us to the fullness of Truth, Who is none other than Jesus Christ Himself. The Lord’s goodness far surpasses any good that the human mind can attribute to Him. And we can certainly attribute the things I have said here about Him to Him! As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once put it: “Faith is not just believing in God; it is believing in the love of God.” That is the faith that dispels all doubt, all questions about His perfect and profound works, all hesitation in accepting His Word, and all fear.

  15. IS IT POSSIBLE TO BE A CHRISTIAN EVOLUTIONIST? BY STEVE FINNELL

    According to a 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center 27% of white evangelical Protestants, 68% of white Catholics and 78% of white mainline Protestants believe that humans have evolved over time.

    Is it possible to be a Christian evolutionist? How is that possible?

    God is either the creator of all things or a human evolutionists. He is not both.

    Genesis 1:26-27 Then God said , “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…….27 So God created man in His own image…(NKJV)

    God did not say let man evolve into His own image.

    Matthew 19:4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female.” (NKJV)

    Jesus said, male and female were made at the beginning. Male and female did not evolve, they were created.

    Some who claim to be Christians, say that the Genesis account of creation is allegorical or mythical. Is Matthew 19:4 allegorical and mythical as well?

    Others claim to believe in theistic evolution. God is either creator of all things or a humanist evolutionist, God is not both.

    IS IT POSSIBLE TO BE CHRISTIAN AND AN EVOLUTIONISTS? GOOD LUCK WITH THAT!

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http//:steve-finnell.blogspot.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *